The Swimming Pool gets my recommendation as a must-read novel of the summer, preferably by your own swimming pool, the sounds and the smells enhancing the wonderful backdrop to this scary tale about female friendship.
When previously staid, middle-aged teacher Natalie Steele hears that the swimming pool near her home has been renovated, she’s anxious. Her daughter Molly has an extreme water phobia after all and a pool isn’t going to help. But, all too soon she is drawn to it, to the exclusion of pretty much everything and everyone else, well everyone that is except her new best friend Lara. Lara Faulkner is confident and glamorous as befits her former life as an actress, and the more sceptical in Natalie’s circle wonder what the attraction is? The fact that from Natalie’s perspective that there is an attraction is not in doubt! As the summer holiday unfolds Natalie begins to question all that she held most dear and for a while, wishes that the summer could last forever!
Natalie is a compelling character, she is typical of her generation, living in a rented apartment because following an early marriage to her husband Ed they didn’t manage to get on the property ladder at the right time. Theirs is a typical family, hard-working if a bit earnest they have adapted their early ideals to make a comfortable and safe life for their daughter Molly. Molly’s phobia has obviously become a huge issue, particularly for Natalie and the scenes where Natalie realises that Molly no longer needs her protection in the way she used to really resonated with my experience of parenting an early teen.
This is a clever tale that slowly unfolds in front of us over the course of one summer holiday. The way that Natalie is drawn to Lara obviously foretells something awful but quite what is the question. This feeling is mirrored by the writing which is nothing but foreboding with the heat and the tension rising of each and every page, I really felt myself pulled into the story. Like the onlookers in Natalie’s circle including her husband, fellow teacher, Ed, I was wondering what is behind the friendship and what the autumn would look like for all concerned.
But this book isn’t just about this summer, we know that Natalie had a summer of madness many years earlier and as the tale of a different more murky natural pool, the setting for adolescent life in the 1985. The mystery is what does this long ago summer have to do with anything, except the haunting of Natalie as she relives her actions from that time.
The dénouement is brutal as the secrets that have been half-hidden are revealed following an explosive end of summer party held at the Lido and by the time it came I wasn’t quite sure what to believe. A truly captivating end to a wonderfully readable novel.
Louise Candlish takes a believable situation and clouds the underbelly in shadow. So I suggest that you go set up your sun-lounger and prepare to be entertained by the characters, setting and a plot that swirls like a whirlpool!
I was lucky enough to receive my copy for review from Lovereading, The Swimming Pool will be published on 5 May 2016 by Penguin UK.
I was particularly pleased to have the opportunity to read this book as I loved The Sudden Departure of the Frasers last year, so much so that I have also read The Disappearance of Emily Marr, both of which I highly recommend. Luckily Louise Candlish has a large back-catalogue to explore and I have another in reserve on the TBR.